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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume II. The End of the Middle Ages.

XII. English Prose in the Fifteenth Century, I

§ 6. His Style and Vocabulary

The Repressor is so clearly written that the achievement of its author is hardly realised at first in its magnitude. Pecock had to find or make terms for conveying abstract ideas and philosophical distinctions; yet it is but seldom that he betrays the difficulty and states that he uses a word in two senses (e.g. leeful for “permissible” and “enjoined”). His wide command of terms is not that of a man conversant only with theological literature; many of his more unusual words are to be found in Chaucer or in Piers the Plowman, while others seem to be of recent importation and a few, even, of his own invention.

Perhaps it is significant of the materialism of the age that Pecock so seldom indulges in metaphor; “to lussche forth texts,” “a Coppid (crested) woman” are simple, but he felt obliged more than once to explain elaborately, as did Trevisa, the nature of figurative language where one would have thought the meaning self-evident.

The only drawback to Pecock’s style, for a modern reader, is his tendency to pleonasm. The reason already suggested does not cover nearly all the instances of bouble, or even triple, expressions. Pecock is not wholly free from the old love of balanced phrases, nor perhaps, from the turn for quasi-legal forms affected in his age. He repeatsthe seid, thenow rehercid tiresomely, and rejoices in triplicates: so mich fonned, masid and dotid: ech gouernaunce or conuersacioun or policie which Holi Scripture werneth not and forbedeth not. This tendency, however, is most noticeable in the early and more diaelectical protions of The Repressor, while the very contrast between the full precision fo the arguments and the colloquial turn of the examples gives a pleasing sense of variety. The spelling is, as a rule, consistent, and is noteworthy for a system of boubling the vowels to give a long sound: lijk, meenis, waasteful, etc. It is probable that the extant copy of The Repressor, was executed under Pecock’s immediate supervision, to be handled to the archbishop.